The Messenger

Saint Stephenís, Schenectady December, 2003


Preparing for Christmas at St. Stephenís



Advent begins on Sunday, Nov. 30th. It is a time to prepare for Christ's birth as well as for his second coming to judge the world. It is a time of watching and waiting and great expectation. Purple, the color of thoughtfulness and penitence, is the color of the season.  For some, Advent is a time to memorize lines (picture to left)


The Christmas Pageant

A pageant has been scheduled for the last Sunday in Advent. The date is December 21st at the 10:15 service. Unfortunately, aliens or dinosaurs wonít be making an appearance this year, but we hope that all of the children can participate. We need angels, shepherds, sheep, a narrator and, of course, baby Jesus. We also need volunteers to help with the costumes and to guide the children at rehearsal and during the pageant. A rehearsal time has been tentatively scheduled for December 20th in the afternoon. Please talk with Laura Davis, Allison de Kanel, or Richey Woodzell if your children can be in the pageant or if you can join in the fun.



Waiting for Christ: Lighting the Advent Wreath
(picture to right)


The Advent Wreath: At Church and At Home

Christians have developed a tradition of the Advent wreath to help us take time out from our busy Christmas preparations and to open our hearts to Jesus. The circular form of the wreath, like God's love, is never-ending. The greenery that covers it reminds us of everlasting life and hope because evergreen trees are green even in the midst of winter.

with the women in the county jail. Together, we have been able to assist individuals and families in need. We have been able to fund several scholarships, provide a safety net in several cases of emergency, provide extra gifts to specific projects of SICM, etc. I try to make most gifts personal ones. From time to time, however, this fund has also been a way to provide needed equipment and supplies for St. Stephen's.


Tutors Needed at COCOA House

COCOA House will remain open, offering homework assistance to elementary and middle school students, during the Union College break. Since most of the college tutors will be away for the holidays, the after-school program is seeking tutors to fill in during that time. Volunteers are needed to help out from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays from Dec. 1 through Dec. 18. Any assistance that can be offered will be appreciated. Call Rachel Graham at 377-4977.


Pastoral Care for all Ages



Carrie Trant Visits Helen Begley


Every Member Canvass

The Every Member Canvass for pledges in 2004 is quickly drawing to a close. If you have not returned your pledge cards to the parish office, please place them in the offering plate during the Eucharist on Sunday, Nov. 30th or please send them to the church office.

So far we have recieved 105 pledges for approximately $141,000. The parish extends its gratitude to those who have worked so diligently on the canvas, especially to Norman Hoffmann who served as Chairperson.


Home Communion

If you or someone you know is unable to attend church on either a long or short-term basis, please call the parish office if you would like to have communion brought to you.


The Church in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, universities, monasteries, and museums were established. The Church, with her majestic cathedrals, joined these institutions in influencing society. But this interaction with culture was not without difficulties: barbarian invasion, crusades, the Muslim challenge. This course will take a candid look at all these issues with an emphasis on the crusades and the Franciscans. The classes will take place from December 7th through January 18th on Sunday morning from 9:00 to 10:00 in the parish hall.


From the Rector

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write to you Thanksgiving has not yet arrived, so I will save any Christmas greetings for next month. Meanwhile I would like to share with you a couple of things on my mind and on my agenda.

First, let me tell you about how I've been spending my time when I am not working directly at St. Stephen's. Many of you know that I have been working with a group of lay people and clergy who believe it is appropriate to remain in the Episcopal Church, USA, with its strong mission, moral stances on various issues, association in the Anglican Communion and ecumenical work. These faithful members of our diocese differ in opinion regarding such moral issues as human sexuality. Some who are committed to remaining in ECUSA are opposed to the consecration of Bishop Robinson, while others applaud it. At the same time, we are united in our conviction that such diversity expresses the range of faithful responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We strive to respect those who disagree with us, and we recognize that the disagreements issue from diverse legitimate readings of the Bible by faithful Christians.

Because of these beliefs we have organized a new diocesan group called Albany Via Media which has been incorporated in the state of New York. I have been elected as co-president with my colleague in Plattsburgh, John Sorensen.

More about Albany Via Media can be found in this issue of The Messenger.

Second, on a different but related topic I want to thank you for your gifts to the Rector's Discretionary Fund. I do not know each individual contribution, so I want to express my appreciation in a public way. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity. In addition to these gifts you all make, I also add those honorariums that I receive from services of burial, marriage, baptism.

Deacon Pat and I divide your gifts in half, since she also sees great financial needs with her work with the women in the county jail. Together, we have been able to assist individuals and families in need. We have been able to fund several scholarships, provide a safety net in several cases of emergency, provide extra gifts to specific projects of SICM, etc. I try to make most gifts personal ones. From time to time, however, this fund has also been a way to provide needed equipment and supplies for St. Stephen's.

It says: "discretionary." I hope that I am faithful with the gifts which I make and in the spirit with which each of you have given. They are more needed than ever in this holiday season.

Thank you.

Fr. James



Gathering Straws

A tradition at Saint Stephenís is the "Gathering Straws" to soften the waiting manger bed in your household creche. It is just helpful in reminding children about the season of Advent. For every good deed a straw is placed in the manger as a graphic sign of growth and preparation for the Christ Child we await. On Christmas Eve, the little manger, now soft with straw, is brought in procession to the waiting stable where the figure of the Child is placed during the night. Small bags of straw can be found on a table in the Parish Hall Extension.


Giving Tree

A tree will be set up in the Parish Hall beginning Nov. 30th. On the tree will be envelopes with cards inside listing an item needed for a member of a needy family in Schenectady County. During the first week of December, please take an envelope. During the 3rd Sunday in Advent (Dec. 14th) please bring the needed item to church in a gift wrapped box and place it under the tree. Gifts will be taken to the families during the week to make Christmas a little merrier for those who have little.


Stocking Giving Tree


Itís fun every year to select an envelope from the giving tree for the families St. Stephenís is assisting at Christmas. Our parishioners always make sure the gifts are generous and beautifully wrapped.

In some years the parish also provides Christmas stockings for the children of the supported families. Itís fun, but itís a lot of work, too. This year, weíd like to share the fun with our youngsters in Sunday School. There will be a small giving tree downstairs, just for them. The gift suggestions will be for small, inexpensive, child-safe items like "a small ball". We want the stockings to be fun, with interesting lumps and bumps, and all a little different. It is not necessary to wrap the stocking gifts.

Anyone who would like to help assemble the gifts and stockings should see me, Allison de Kanel



Albany Via Media

Episcopalians striving for a middle way

of diversity and tolerance in the Diocese of Albany

Who are we?  Albany Via Media is an organization of clergy and lay Episcopalians in the Diocese of Albany. We are loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ in the Episcopal Church USA and our Primate, the Presiding Bishop. We recognize the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA as the highest authority in the church. We founded our organization when Bishop Herzog, a board member of the American Anglican Council, and Bishop Bena, a member and leader in the AAC, disagreed with decisions of the General Convention and spoke of realignment and impaired communion with the Episcopal Church USA. Since any realignment or impaired communion with other dioceses of the Episcopal Church affects our lives and our ministries, binds our consciences and violates the ordination vows of our clergy, Albany Via Media, a not-for-profit corporation in the State of New York, was created to keep the Diocese of Albany in communion with the Episcopal Church USA. 

What do we offer? Albany Via Media offers a place for Episcopalians to be faithful to Christ as prayerful members of the Episcopal Church USA. We give thanks for the Episcopal Church as the American embodiment of Anglicanism Ė a comprehensive and diverse family. We understand that all of us bring unique gifts to the ministry of the church and all have a place at Christís table.  No one can claim greater honor or truth over another.  Albany Via Media offers a place for faithful and prayerful Episcopalians within the Diocese to live out our Lordís Great Commandment in love, diversity and compassion.

What do we seek? Albany Via Media seeks to revive our Anglican diversity in the Diocese of Albany.  Knowing that prayer shapes believing, we understand that we are strongest when we kneel (or stand) together in prayer. Albany Via Media seeks to model and teach a charitable faith. We welcome differences, ambiguities, and paradox, knowing that prayerful consideration of various points of view, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can yield new
insights, deeper understanding, and a lively Christian faith.  

What do we believe?   We believe that "The Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary to salvation." (Article 6, Articles of Religion) We believe that the so-called "literal" interpretation of Holy Scripture is theologically and intellectually dishonest.  We find Biblical fundamentalism to be dangerously idolatrous. Nurtured by scripture, tradition and reason, we open ourselves to Godís truth as a diverse community, through prayer, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As Episcopalians, we are sustained and empowered by Holy Scripture, the sacraments, the creeds, common prayer and servant ministry. We understand the New Testament model of the Body of Christ to be a very local, universal, diverse and inclusive church, with a variety of gifts for ministry.

In Summary, Albany Via Media is a grass roots organization of clergy and lay people who love the rich diversity of the Episcopal Church. We are deeply committed to the live of common prayer and the prayer book faith we have received. We are Episcopalians striving for a middle way of diversity and tolerance in the Diocese of Albany.


Chris Jones Becomes Webmaster for Albany Via Media


The Albany Via Media board of directors decided that the best way to get our message out to the rest of the Diocese of Albany was to have a website. Chris Jones heard of our need and stepped up to meet it. Please visit  and see his work!




SICM Holiday Assembly Open to All

SICM delegates, pastors, volunteers, supporters and friends are invited to come celebrate the holiday season at SICMís annual festivities at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3 at Our Lady of Fatima Church, Rosa Road, Niskayuna. Bring a dish to share for the potluck and enjoy an evening of music and storytelling and socializing with friends. Call SICM at 374-2683 for more information.



Post Office Food Drive to Benefit Emergency Food Program

Remember to put out nonperishable food for your postal carrier to collect between Dec. 1 and Dec. 6. The food is distributed among Schenectady County food providers, including SICMís food pantry. For information, contact Pat Obrecht at 346-4445.



Demand Rises at Food Program

Demand for emergency groceries in 2003 already has surpassed last yearís. The Food Program had served through October 739 more families and 1,240 more people, including 774 more children, than in all of 2002. The Food Program expects the trend to continue over the last two months of the year. Among the reasons for the increased demand are higher rents and utility bills, greater financial stress on working families and census data that show the percentage of low- to moderate-income households in the city of Schenectady rose from 51.25 percent in 1990 to 61.25 percent in 2000.


Coalition Presses for Six-Point Public Safety Agenda

A newly formed Coalition for Public Safety is urging city and county officials to increase support for public safety through such measures as greater city-county partnerships, adoption of the COPS grant, county administration of the city holding facility, etc. SICM and congregations are providing leadership. Deacon Pat and I, as well as several members of St. Stephenís, are members of this group. To join, or for more information, contact Rev. Phillip Grigsby at 374-2683.

2004 Interfaith Calendars

designed by The National Conference for Community and Justice

On Sale at the Church Shop - $15

One religious community each month is highlighted from Dec. 2003 Ė Jan. 2005. For each community there is a summary of its basic tenets and major writings, was well as pictures, photographs and graphics from that tradition.

Great as a gift or for home education!



Rectorís Sabbatical Planned for Summer

Every seven years Fr. James is given three months for clergy renewal very similar to a sabbatical in academic circles. Since this is Fr. Jamesí fourteenth year at St. Stephenís, he is planning a sabbatical for this summer from June 7th to Sept. 7th.

Based on the Lenten study on Abraham last spring, and on subsequent study, Fr. James discovered that Spain was the center of Western civilization between the 8th and 15th centuries. The capital city of Cordoba was Europe's largest - the city of books, of patrons of great literary figures and of men who were explorers of knowledge. There was no conflict among science, wisdom, and faith; nor among Muslims, Jews and Christians; no separation between East and West. Here was the beginning of the European Renaissance, which would eventually spread across the continent.

Fr. James plans a sabbatical of study with pilgrimage in which he will experience the historic and actual interactions between the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He will spend three weeks in academic preparation; four weeks traveling with his family to Spain on a pilgrimage visiting places which still contain the heritage of almost 800 years of Islamic, Jewish and Christian presence; two weeks in Israel where he has contacts at Saint Georgeís College (Anglican), in the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem who will introduce him to Palestinian Christian and Muslim and Jewish leaders as well as ordinary people of all three faiths; and finally three weeks creating a multi-media presentation of his experiences. His intention is to apply what he learns of Spainís religious history to the current interactions among individuals and factions of the three religions.

Funding for this sabbatical has come from the National Clergy Renewal Program of the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Fr. James has received $43,756 for the sabbatical and for congregational expenses such as stipend for an interim priest and parish renewal activities.



5:00 p.m. Family Eucharist
10:45 p.m. Christmas Carols
11:00 p.m. Festive Candlelight Eucharist


10:00 a.m. Eucharist


Friday, December 26th
10:00 a.m. Eucharist


December 28th
8:00 a.m. Eucharist
10:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist


New Year's Day
10:00 a.m. Eucharist


Epiphany Sunday
January 4th
8:00 a.m. Eucharist
10:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Advent Service of Lessons and Carols

St. Stephenís will be holding an Advent Service of Lessons and Carols at 3:00 pm on Sunday Dec. 7. This service will feature the adult choir and bell choir. Help prepare for the holiday season through these reflections in word and song. A reception will follow.


Church School Schedule

Sunday 11/30 9:00 AM Advent Intergenerational

Sunday 12/7 9:00 AM regular classes

Sunday 12/14 9:00 AM regular classes

Saturday 12/20 TBA Christmas pageant rehearsal

Sunday 12/21 9:00 AM music / pageant prep

10:15 AM Christmas pageant

Thursday 12/24 5:00 PM Christmas Eve service

Sunday 12/28 No classes

Sunday 1/4 9:00 AM Epiphany Intergenerational





Anniversaries to Keep in Mind



December Birthdays

Peter Nevius 12/01; Eleanor Malcolm 12/01; Rebecca Carroll 12/01
Louise Peake 12/05; Kurt McKeone 12/05; David Kaczka 12/06
Mildred Gittinger 12/07
Vicki Hoshko 12/08; Jarrod Fowle 12/08
Tyffani Adams 12/09
John Liberi 12/12; Claudia Ashelman 12/12
Nathan Phillips 12/13
Robin Kaczka 12/15
Robert McCalley 12/17
Jed Dare 12/18
Shirley Gretz 12/20; Taylor Pierce 12/20
Jean Greenspan 12/21
Stephen Sombor 12/23
Robert Olberg 12/25; Irwin Blanchard 12/25
John Petito 12/26
Stephen Chapman 12/27; Ronald Michelson 12/27; Isabelle Jaquith 12/27
Anne Sombor 12/28; Gloria Kavanah 12/28
Carl Hatlee,II 12/29; Tom Rigley 12/29
Denise Crates 12/31



December Anniversaries

Dennis and Joan Moss 12/02
Robert Olberg and Andrea Worthington 12/10
Mark and Mary Pasko 12/12
Scott and Trina Moss 12/15
Daniel and Edith Lundquist 12/18
Gerald and Linda Perregaux 12/22
Eunice Chouffi 12/23
Grant and Rosemarie Jaquith 12/30



Schedules to Remember



LEM and Care Givers Schedules

Week of

Care Team

November 30

C. Downs

December 07

M. Bishop, P. Holmes

December 14

G. & R. Woodzell

December 21

A. & K. Lowe

December 28

G. & S. Woodcock




8: 00 am Chalice Bearer and Lector Schedules




1st Lesson

2nd Lesson

December 7

P. Holmes

M. Bishop

G. Woodcock

December 14

N. Hoffmann

C. Jones

S. Ras

December 21

T. Miller

B. Stratton

K. Miller

December 24

5 pm

M. Causey

J. Versocki

O. Jones

G. Jaquith

December 28

B. Frank

S. Woodcock

D. Stevens



Counter Schedule

December 7

Ackner, Belardo, Voelker

December 14

Causey, Crates, Spang

December 21

Northrop, Peake, Small

December 28

D. May, R. May, Strangfeld



10: 15 am Chalice Bearer and Lector Schedules




1st Lesson

2nd Lesson

December 7

G. Jaquith

O. Jones

M. Dare

December 14

V. Hoshko

M. Gittinger

B. Voelker

December 21

B. Frank

L. Varno

D. Manor

December 24

10:45 pm


B. Frank

G. Strangfeld

L. Emaelaf

December 28

T. Miller

B. Adams

D. Caruso


Acolyte Schedule







December 7

Chris Morin

Anne Sombor

Devon Dare

Chelsea Trant

December 14

John Casale

Tyleigh Versocki

Emily Mertz

Shannon Trant

December 21

Paul Pratico

Laura Pratico

Zachary Price

Megan Price

December 24 5:00 pm

Andy Marshall

Tom Casale

Alli DeBritz

Will Koch

December 24 10:45 pm

Chris Morin

Ethan Brooks-McDonald

Britta Kilbourn

Carrie Trant

December 25

no acolytes scheduled

December 28

John Casale

Megan Price

Katie Casale

Emily Mertz


Altar Flowers for Christmas 2003

In memory of __________________________ or

As a thank offering for___________________

The gift of ____________________________

Donation _________

Return this coupon with your check to the Parish Office by December 17th. Or put the coupon with your donation in the collection plate.



Flower Calendar for 2004

I would like to provide the flowers on Sunday, ___________

In memory of ________________________ or as a thankoffering for




Check enclosed in the amount of _________($35.00 minimum)

You must enclose your payment to secure your desired date. Send this coupon and your check to the Church Office or place in the offering plate.

saint stephen's

episcopal church


progressive, catholic, reformed




St. Stephenís Episcopal Church
1935 The Plaza
Schenectady, New York 12309